I have a room with 3 entryways (so 4-way circuit) but I would like to have the three entry switches activate two separate switched lights ...at the same time...but also individually addressable at those two switches.

E.g. Like a hotel room that has an “all-on” at the door but then the bedside lights can be turned off and on individually at each side of the bed without going to the door.

So five switches...three at the entries...two at the beds. Entries control both bed lights in tandem...bed switches control them individually and independently.

New construction, source can be at any junction, plenty of space for adequately sized boxes.

I know this can be done, but cannot visualize how.

Any help?

Edit: Yes, I’d like to be able to toggle the two bed switches on/off, independently, regardless of the state of the 3 wall switches.

Edit: the default state of the bed switches would be “neutral” I guess. Ideally the three wall switches would be able to turn them off and on together (as a single light) and then the local bed switches would be able to toggle them on/off separately.

Edit: Master (wall) controls would change state of bed lights no matter their state. Ideally, Master (wall) switches would control the state of both bed lights at the same time, while the bed switches would toggle only their light independently.

Scenario: -I walk into the room (dark) and flip the hallway wall switch=both BED lights turn on. -I walk through the room to the deck and flip the switch on that side=both BED lights turn off -I reenter the room from the deck, turning them both on again, cross to the bathroom wall switch turn them both off. -I reenter the room, flip the bathroom switch both BED lights turn on again.

=A standard four way circuit controlling two lights—

And then… -I get into bed, read a bit, and reach up to turn the bed light off via my switch at the bed…MY SIDE ONLY. My wife’s side stays on until her switch on her side is individually toggled off.

And then…I get out of bed (without changing the state of either of the bed switches), walk to any of the three wall switches and am able to turn both lights on/off together.

  • 3
    I think it's a problem of not fully understanding the sequence you want. Make a "state diagram" of each of the pre-conditions, and the actions you desire to occur in each case. For instance, one bed light is on, the other is off, and you throw one of the three 4-ways: what happens? Commented May 17, 2021 at 18:31
  • I believe you want to just add a local on off switch but this would require the local switch and the 3/4 way combination to be on. I haven’t seen this done but I have seen programmable lighting setups that could do what you want where you flip a switch and the local light turns on, a note book computer and hub controls can also provide all kinds of fun options. Although a tech at heart I have not found programmable consumer grade electronics to be worth the cost due to a short equipment life or that is what I have experienced with multiple brands.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented May 17, 2021 at 19:09
  • Do you want to be able to turn the bed lights on with the main switches off? Commented May 18, 2021 at 0:03
  • Note that if the switches in the bedroom are intended to be master switches, you may want three positions, override on, override off and pass. The best way to do this may not be with 3 or 4 way switches, so figuring out your actual intended input and output, as others have mentioned is critical.
    – K H
    Commented May 18, 2021 at 4:23
  • 1
    Yes, I’d like to be able to toggle the two bed lights on/off (independently) regardless of the state of the 4-way switches.
    – Shawn G
    Commented May 18, 2021 at 19:31

4 Answers 4


I know this can be done, but cannot visualize how.

Actually, it can't.

E.g. Like a hotel room that has an “all-on” at the door but then the bedside lights can be turned off and on individually at each side of the bed without going to the door.

That doesn't work as universally as you think. What's happening is it has two switches in series. Either switch can shut off the light, but both must be on for the light to light. When you come in the next evening and are able to cotnrol the bedside lights from the entry door, it is because of prior human intervention — the room cleaners have turned the at-bed switches back on.

As far as meeting your high bar of universal control... The old school way of doing that is relays such as GE's RR7 system. The modern way is with smart switches and hubs, and a little bit of scripting language.


This is just a guess (see H-RM's comment), but if your intent is that the 4-way switches control whether or not there's power to the light switches at the bed, then this is no different from running wiring from 4-way switches to hardwired lighting fixtures. You just install light switches inline with each lighting fixture so that power is toggled at the input to each of these 2 switches when one of the 4-ways is toggled.

This means that the 'logic' diagram will require both the correct toggling of the 4-ways and that either 2-way local switch be in the "on" position for the respective light to be "on". When the 4ways are toggled the other way, there's no power on the inputs to the local 2-way switches, so the lights would be off.

Warning: if you are not experienced in electrical wiring, get someone who is to help. It's important to know what is 'hot' and what isn't, and further to ensure the local 2-way switches (and their lights) are not in series.


So, which overrides the other? That is, if the "4-way" switches say it is "on", do you want the local switch to be able to turn it off (A), but if the "4-way" switches say it is "off", do you want the local switch to be able to turn it on (B)?

Or, are you saying that you want the local switch to reverse (or not) the 4-way (C)?

I'm referring to the '4-way wiring' diagram from https://dengarden.com/home-improvement/How-to-wire-a-4-way-switch-with-wiring-diagram for this. Essentially, in all of the below we're starting with one of your entry-way switches being wired with a 3-way switch from the circuit breaker, then the next entry way as a 4-way switch from that 3-way, then the last entryway as a terminating 3-way switch. If you didn't want those local switches, then, the output of the 3-way (one hot, one neutral) would go up to the two light switches (wired in parallel; the hot goes to both, and the neutral comes directly back from both).

Changing this to A is very straightforward.

A: The end 3-way switch (and hence all the entry switches in the 3-4-3 chain) will provide power (or not) to both of your junction boxes (ie, the wires going into that junction box are the same as a light power would be if you had two lights there switched by just the entry switches). Just wire standard 2-way switch in the junction boxes instead of the light fixture, and then the output of each switch goes to the light fixture. If the 4-way setup is providing poser to the junction box, the local switch can turn the light on or off; if the 4-way has power cut off, it will remain cut off.

B: I believe what you need to do is make sure the 4-way and individual switches are on the same circuit (very important!), and wire the bedside light switches directly from the circuit breaker (ie, in parallel with whatever else might be on that circuit). Then essentially you have two wires coming up for the "hot" of the light: the one from the last 3-way, and the one from the individual switch. Since the neutrals are on the same circuit, they all bond together at the light. If you hit the "on" at any of the entry ways, that will turn all the lights on, period, regardless of what the local switches have to say about the matter. If you hit "off" on the entry ways (ie, they all point the same way), then you can control the light locally at the bed.

C: What I think you would do to do this is to have the final entry switch use "4-way" wiring (remember that "4-way" can be used for any number of switches, so this is essentially like the diagram but with two 4-way switches in the middle). That is, the first entry in the chain would be 3-way wired, and the second 4-way like before, but then the third is 4-way as well. So, three wires (plus ground!) going from that to each of the junction boxes. Each of the local switches would be a terminating 3-way switch. I may be missing something in this setup, so, again, seek out a qualified electrician's advice to verify you aren't creating a subtle hazard in this configuration.

IMHO, any of the above will end up with people frustrated in specific situations ("I have to walk across the room to turn on/off the light?" or "I'm in bed and can't turn off the lights now!" or "I can turn one light on or the other on, but not both off or on without playing with bedside switches?" etc) In my very humble opinion, the "right" way to do this is to just use smart bulbs/switches where you can program in the different states / control the lights from anywhere. This is a devastatingly simple problem to solve using for example Lutron Caseta switches (where basically everything is controlled at the local light switches near the bed but you have remotes at the entries).


This can be made to work, but the overrides are slightly...non-standard

The normal way an "override" function is wired is called a hand-off-auto or "HOA" switch in the industrial automation world. In this, one of the end positions is "on" (called "hand"), the center position is the "off" position, and the other end position (the "auto" position) lets the machine control the device in question. This is different from normal, two-position (on-off or on-on) lightswitch behavior; however, Leviton makes the 1281 (toggle) and 5685 (decorator) switches that implement the double-throw, center-OFF function we need.

For this, you'll need the standard parts for your 4-way complex, as well as two of the aforementioned double-throw, center-OFF switches to serve as your overrides, and some extra /3 cable. We start by wiring the 4-way complex as a switch spur, where the onward load cable is connected into the complex at the same place power comes in at. This is done because we also take always-hot alongside the "master" switched-hot and neutral, using /3 cables from the 4-way complex to the override switches.

At the override locations, we then wire the switches so that neutral is passed through, the final switched-hot to the bedside lamp on that side is taken off from the common screw on the switch (its the screw by itself on the Leviton parts mentioned, as its the same color as the other hot screws, unlike a normal 3-way switch), and the incoming always-hot and "master" switched hot are connected to the remaining brass screws on the switch. This way, you'll have a "hand" position corresponding to the always-hot, a center-off, and an "auto" position corresponding to the "master" switched-hot, all in the same form factor as a standard light-switch.

  • 1
    Hand-off-auto means like the switch on a dome light in a car, where you force it on at the light, force it off at the light, or let it auto-switch when the body computer wants to turn it on. That would mean in some cases OP would have to physically go to the bed lights and turn then to "auto". Commented Jul 31, 2021 at 23:26
  • Yeah, this is about the best one can do with standard lighting parts -- one could do something more ingenious with Insteon or the likes, but that's a different sort of challenge :) Commented Aug 1, 2021 at 0:13

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